| Telecom News &
phone firms making switching difficult
||Starting last month, the Federal Communications
Commission ordered cellular carriers to let customers keep their phone
number when they switch providers but critics say phone companies
are using other tricks to deter millions more customers from switching.
Powell wants internet calls treated like e-mails
||Powell noted that while calls over the Internet
might serve the same function as calls over conventional phone lines,
the underlying technology is different enough that it would not make
sense to subject them to "100 years of judgments" and regulations.
"Let's get this thing right and define it as truer to its real
nature," he said, referring to the new technology.
to add Internet phone service
||No. 1 long-distance carrier AT&T on Thursday
announced plans to sell Internet phone service to consumers and to
more businesses in 2004.
firms wired about offering Net phone calls
||After years of promise, the stars are aligning to
let cable companies overcome technical and cost hurdles that held
back Internet telephony as a cheaper alternative to traditional phone
labor talk at SBC
||The contract for nearly 100,000 employees of the
telecom behemoth, which acquired Pacific Bell in 1997, will expire
on April 1. Union leaders are already talking about a strike if they
don't get what they want -- and the company is taking them very seriously.
phone over Internet a big hit
||Just 10 weeks after it was started, Skype has attracted
nearly 2.6 million users.
Wireless introduces speedier data service
||AT&T Wireless is wading into the mobile Internet
arms race with a national upgrade to its mobile data network that
will enable laptop connections at twice the speed of dial-up access.
AT&T Wireless boasted Tuesday that it now offers the fastest national
Powell says consumers may encounter problems when switching cell phone
||Powell said he foresees no major trouble, but "hiccups"
phone companies facing more scrutiny by U.S. and state agencies
||Internet telephone companies, whose businesses are
unregulated, are drawing the attention of government officials now
that the industry has gained a small foothold with consumers and may
ultimately challenge the Baby Bells.
soon to a cell phone near you: live TV
||Phone giant Sprint Corp. and a small Berkeley company
today are introducing cell phone TV, a new service that brings wireless
phone users live television broadcasts from networks like MSNBC, the
California Music Channel and the Discovery Channel.
- cell number transfers OKd
||Federal regulators give the go-ahead for consumers
to switch their home phone numbers to their cell phones.
eyes regulating Internet phone calls
||The Federal Communications Commission is taking
a look at how to regulate phone calls made over the Internet rather
than the conventional handset.
faces $780,000 fine over telemarketing charge
||AT&T faces a $780,000 fine for reaching out
and touching consumers who had asked to be left alone.
pension fund surplus is gone
||Qwest's pension fund surplus - $4.1 billion as recently
as year-end 2000 - has evaporated, sparking an investigation by the
telco's retirees group and the threat of a possible lawsuit.
||The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has denied
Qwest's request to be allowed to increase or decrease basic local
exchange rates in seven Idaho cities without commission approval.
Qwest told the PUC that its business was being negatively impacted
by cell phone providers. Qwest sought permission to deregulate basic
phone service rates to better compete in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell,
Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls.
overstated income by $125 million
||AT&T, which has been among the loudest in accusing
rival MCI of fraud, said it overstated income by $125 million in 2001
and 2002. The long distance company also gave a gloomy outlook for
the current quarter, citing soft consumer spending and tough price
system that uses cellphone towers to track every vehicle on the road
||The technology, called Celdar (from "cellular"
+ "radar") watches and interprets how signals from cell-phone
base stations interact with objects such as cars, trucks or planes.
Once the passive-radar cat is out of the bag, there's even a chance
it could evolve into a means of tracking people on the street.
phones double as wallets in South Korea
||In one of South Korea's latest efforts to establish
itself as a technology trendsetter, the country's three telecom giants,
major credit card companies and several banks have been working for
a year to enable Koreans to pay for everything from groceries to gasoline
by cell phone.
cell phone number portability rule rattles industry
||Beginning November 24, 2003, the U.S. cell phone
industry will lose the one thing that insulated it from true competition.
In what could be the biggest event in the industry's 20-year history,
a new rule will let consumers keep their cell phone numbers if they
New Telecom Licenses Will Let Ordinary Citizens Call The Shots
||It's a nightmare trying to reach someone on the
telephone in Iraq -- whether you're dialing a satellite phone, a mobile
phone, or one of the country's fixed land lines. The procedure might
take hours to succeed, if it ever does. But Iraqi authorities say
the situation could soon change. Earlier this month, Iraqi Communications
Minister Haidar al-Abbadi announced that three developers have been
awarded contracts to set up mobile phone networks in Iraq within the
next several weeks. "The companies that will bring Iraq world-class
mobile communication are, in the northern region, the AsiaCell consortium;
in the central region, Orascom; and in the southern region, AtheerTel.
The race is on -- which of these three companies will be able to launch
the first service to the public and therefore enable the minister
of communications to make the first call on Iraq's first mobile network?"
switches to junk mail
||The owner of a small direct-marketing company in
Modesto says that he'll be forced to close by November 1st unless
he can find some clever new way to do business.
unions ratify 5 year labor contract
||Two unions representing 78,000 Verizon Communications
workers have ratified a five-year labor agreement.
calls soon may not be so cheap
||In recent months, phone companies in Florida, Oregon
and Washington have sued voice-over-Internet-protocol (VOIP) carriers,
saying they are cheating them out of fees. States are challenging
VOIP, too. California last week became the largest to say VOIP providers
should be treated like phone companies.
was wrong, court decides
||The Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled the
Federal Communications Commission erred in a decision this year to
classify cable broadband as a less-regulated "information"
service. The ruling, which the FCC will appeal, could force cable
operators to open networks to independent ISPs much the way local
phone companies must let ISPs resell phone-line-based DSL broadband
using their networks.
call him, he'll call you
||Petaluma's Brett Paley has been a telemarketer for
the past 22 years. And he thinks a national do-not-call list run by
the federal government is a big waste of time.
filing says rivals reroute wireless calls
||Embattled MCI has struck back at rivals that claim
it fraudulently routed phone calls to avoid call-delivery fees. The
No. 2 long-distance carrier says it's not fraud and that its
rivals do the same thing.
Tells of Snarled Records
||WorldCom Inc.'s internal and external auditors testified
in U.S. Bankruptcy Court today that the company's books remain a tangled
mess and that it may be impossible to properly apportion close to
$1 trillion in transactions between more than 200 subsidiaries.
SBC service to link cellular service with landlines
||SBC Communications Inc.'s Cingular Wireless partnership
will launch a new service today that lets cell phone users route their
calls to their landline phones when they're at home or the office
so they can avoid spending wireless minutes when they don't need to.
phone complaints down
||Consumer phone bill complaints against MCI, formerly
WorldCom, and six other large phone companies declined for the first
six months of 2003 vs. the same period last year, according to data
provided by the Federal Communications Commission.
says it had to change MCI call data
||Texas-based DataVon, now in Chapter 11, acknowledges
it changed call data on MCI calls, but not to disguise them so MCI
could avoid call delivery fees — as MCI rivals allege.
FCC ownership rules on hold
||A federal appeals court issued an emergency stay
Wednesday delaying new Federal Communications Commission media ownership
rules that would allow a single company to own newspapers and broadcast
outlets in the same city.
pleads not guilty
||Former WorldCom Chief Executive Bernie Ebbers pleaded
innocent Wednesday to the first criminal charges brought against him
in the long-distance company's $11 billion accounting scandal.
embraces instant messaging - with controls
||New software adds security, tracking
firms hype cellular services - Carriers attempt to overcome slowing
||In an effort to juice up their sales, mobile-phone
carriers are pitching a growing gaggle of new services to customers.
targeting India with cheaper models
||Global telecom equipment and handset major Nokia
is set to step on the pedal and increase its market share in India
by launching two new entry-level phones targeted specially at the
long distance providers "game" the communications system
||"Over the past seven years, every major segment
of the industry, new and old, has spent an immense amount of time
scheming to game the complex process," the Texas Office of Public
Utility Council and Consumers Union told the Federal Communications
Commission in January. The FCC should "simplify and unify" the tangle
to "take the fun and profit out of gaming the system."
of phones wearing on Iraqis
||Bechtel says restoring service, helping locals a
phone gadgets gaining popularity
||"Texting" makes inroads into U.S.
phone services to fight cancellations
||Mobile phone number portability neither cheap nor
says MCI rerouted military calls
||Intensifying its claim that MCI has compromised
national security, AT&T Corp. said Wednesday it had new evidence the
carrier improperly routed calls placed by the U.S. military through
may pay $20 million to settle Arizona case
||Qwest Communications has agreed to pay $20 million
in Arizona to settle allegations that the Denver telco made secret
deals with competitors in exchange for support of its long distance
bid. The agreement with the Arizona Corporation Commission staff,
which still must be approved by the commissioners, would enable Qwest
to restart its long distance proceedings there.
blocks MCI from new government contracts
||The General Services Administration suspended federal
business with MCI after an investigation concluded the bankrupt telecommunications
giant lacks necessary internal controls and ethics.
to vote on restoring restrictions on media ownership
||Senate critics of sweeping media ownership changes
approved by the Federal Communication Commission said Tuesday they
have enough support to force a vote on rolling back the decision.
says MCI diverted government calls to Canada to avoid local access
||AT&T has accused long distance giant MCI of improperly
diverting calls to Canada to avoid paying access fees to local telephone
companies. AT&T said some of the calls originated in the State Department
and other government agencies, suggesting in a court filing Monday
that MCI placed national interests at risk because the calls could
be unprotected from eavesdroppers.
Memoriam: Jane Barbe
||Jane Barbe--whose voice was instantly recognizable
to every telephone user who ever dialed a wrong number, called a number
no longer in service or simply sought to find out the current time
and temperature--died July 18 in Roswell, Ga., of complications from
cancer. She was 74 years old.
claims hotels breaking law by not making phone charges clear
||Hotels can charge guests astronomical rates for
use of telephones. But are they breaking the law by not making those
sector seems strong but unsteady
||Analysts seem more hopeful about wireless firms
than regular phone companies.
holdup: phone fees
||Everyone knows hotel telephones can be a rip-off.
But how badly do guests really get fleeced, and how do hotels get
away with this?
adds satellite TV to lineup
||SBC Communications and EchoStar today announced
a partnership to jointly market satellite television and telco services
in an effort to challenge cable companies on their own turf. SBC plans
to use the new programming resources to launch a “quadruple play”
bundle in early 2004, offering customers in its 13-state territory
multichannel programming, local and long-distance voice, wireless
and broadband services.
panel votes to undo new FCC rule
||The House Appropriations Committee, in a bipartisan
40-25 vote, passed a spending bill amendment that bars the FCC from
enforcing its new rule allowing a broadcaster to own enough TV stations
to reach 45% of the national audience.
behavior develops with new camera phones
||Now that cell phones equipped with digital cameras
have spread throughout Asia, many people are abusing the popular feature
by snapping pictures secretly.
lowers its revenue projections
||MCI, formerly WorldCom, cleared a hurdle Monday
when a judge approved a record $750 million settlement resulting from
its $11 billion accounting fraud, but new challenges face the Number
2 long distance player.
may end 'zone charge'
||Policy change might cut some bills by $5 to $20
in talks to end probe California maintains it deceived customers
||Cingular Wireless quietly began settlement talks
Tuesday with California state regulators to end their probe into whether
Cingular misrepresented its coverage and then locked customers into
long-term contracts, according to people familiar with the talks.
phone portability clears another hurdle
||Cell phone customers soon will be able to keep their
phone numbers when they switch carriers, an appellate court ruled,
affirming a new Federal Communications Commission rule. The FCC rule
is scheduled to go into effect November 24, unless it is delayed or
killed through court or congressional action.
directors' credibility doubted
||Former WorldCom directors should get the boot from
other boards because their credibility has been so damaged amid the
telecom giant's collapse, say corporate governance experts.
merger opponents speak out as decision nears
||From Pearl Jam to the National Rifle Association,
a diverse collection of groups is concerned that a looming government
decision on media ownership rules could lead to a handful of giant
companies controlling what people watch, hear and read.
||Federal Communications Commission staff members
and commissioners accepted more than 2,500 trips during the past eight
years from private corporations, industry trade associations and other
outside groups, according to a study released today by the Center
for Public Integrity. Much of the $2.8 million tab was picked up by
groups representing broadcasters and telecommunications companies,
which the FCC regulates.
adding local phone service
||Sprint is moving to sell local phone service to
its cellular and long distance customers. Sprint feels that the local
plan could develop into an effort to get more people to drop landlines
and go all wireless. That strategy, described by a Sprint executive
Tuesday, acknowledges the grave threat that Internet-based communications
and other technologies pose to traditional landline calling.
agrees to $500 million penalty for accounting fraud
||WorldCom Inc. has agreed to pay half a billion dollars
to settle accusations that it cooked its books, the largest fine ever
levied by federal regulators, yet one criticized by some as a "slap
on the wrist."
to try Wi-Fi in New York
||Verizon Internet subscribers to get free Wi-Fi service
through 1,000 pay phones.
over Qwest accounting restatement
||Former audit firm Arthur Andersen is disputing major
portions of Qwest Communications' proposed $2.2 billion accounting
increase use of teleconferencing due to SARS
||Companies are being forced to make high-level decisions
via phone, rather than in person, since many firms have banned employee
travel to Asia.
introducing wireless office phone systems
||The phones, which look like cell phones, route calls
through each company's computer network and use the same transmission
technology as wireless laptops.
poised to take off - if cell phone market does
||Qualcomm now controls the two standards - CDMA2000
and WCDMA - that are or will be behind just about every cellular system
in the world. Qualcomm gets royalties for every CDMA phone sold and
for CDMA-based equipment. Beyond that, Qualcomm makes the chips inside
90% of CDMA-based cell phones.
could allow Iraq to leap into broadband
||When Iraq is rebuilt, an emerging wireless Internet
technology may let it avoid the broadband woes that have plagued the
USA for years.
post-Chapter 11 edge worries analysts
||"From a competitive perspective, WorldCom coming
out of bankruptcy does have a lot of people afraid " says Gartner
analyst Eric Paulak.
unveils reorganization plan
||The reorganization plan proposes changing the company
name to MCI as well as moving it's headquarters to Asburn, Virginia
Net service via power lines in the works
||Power utilities are working on providing high-speed
internet service via the power lines and the service could cost as
little as $30 a month. This could bring broadband service to millions
of rural residents who have no access to cable or DSL service.
Murdoch's News Corp. agrees to pay $6.6 billion to Hughes Electronics
||The deal would most likely be consummated early
next year if approved by regulators.
conferencing moves to the battlefront in Iraq
||U.S. military commanders are utilizing portable
satellite video conferencing systems to help keep in touch with their
phone business increases due to Iraq war
||Satellite phone carriers are reporting a surge in
business as a result of the war in Iraq but the industry still faces
serious financial troubles.
Net begins to fulfill promise
||The surge in broadband users is fueling an increase
in online content offerings.
bundles broadband with internet telephone calls
||Earthlink, the third largest ISP in the U.S., announced
a deal with Vonage, an Internet telephone company, to provide nationwide
telephone service to its users.
try to do right by Qwest
||U.S. Attorney John Suthers, along with top assistant
Bill Leone, have indicted four former managers of Qwest Communications
and they have indicated that the probe is far from over.
Ed Whitacre shares his views
||SBC CEO Ed Whitacre spoke with the San Francisco
Chronicle about his views concerning job cuts, new FCC regulations
and other issues facing his company.
and Israeli firm get cozy
||SBC parlayed an original $17 million investment
in Israel's Amdocs Ltd. in 1985 into an ownership stake worth more
than $1 billion at its peak three years ago.
CEO raps FCC ruling
||Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg has vowed
to go to court to challenge the ruling.
search industry hot again
||Slew of deals involving online search engines shows
the industry is receiving a serious reassessment.
shuffling workers to Israel-based firm
||Telecommunications giant SBC is quietly firing about
400 longtime workers and, as of Saturday, those same workers will
be employed by Israel-based Amdocs, of which SBC has holds a 10% ownership
of competition means more power to local phone companies
||In some states, local phone competition is going
of mobile phones for surveilllance and crime fighting expected to
||Mobile phones could soon become important tools
in disaster prevention and the fight against crime, industry experts
to buy AlltheWeb.com
||Overture Services has agreed to buy AlltheWeb.com
from Norway-based Fast Search and Transfer (FAST) for $100 million.
'Floyd' tech-support guy arouses suspicions of California regulators
||"Floyd," SBC's seemingly robotic online tech-support
guy has drawn the attention of California regulators concerned about
SBC's possible use of subcontractors outside the United States.
ramifications of FCC phone rule changes
||Consumers, investors and telecom companies gave
mixed reviews to decisions Thursday by the Federal Communications
Commission that could boost competition in the local phone market
but hurt it for high-speed Internet.
votes to preserve local phone competition
||In a sweeping review of phone competition rules,
federal regulators Thursday voted to preserve consumers' choices —
and price competition — for local phone service, but took steps that
might cut competition and raise prices for high-speed Internet service.
posts quarterly profit
||Qwest Communications on Wednesday posted a fourth-quarter
profit of $2.7 billion due to one-time gains, but revenue fell on
slack demand for telephone and data services.
||Internet search leader Google has acquired Blogger,
a startup that helped popularize online journals, giving a boost to
the steadily spreading format known as Weblogs, or "blogs."
to buy AltaVista for $140 million
||Advertising-driven search company Overture Services
on Tuesday said it would buy AltaVista from CMGI for $140 million.
SBC using a machine for "live" online tech support?
||An SBC Yahoo customer suspects that the live online
chat he recently had with an SBC technician named "Floyd" may have
actually been with a machine.
interest in DirecTV draws bad reviews
||"Just because you have one of the strongest balance
sheets in your industry, you needn't feel compelled to squander it
on a pie-in-the-sky strategic move such as this one," wrote Carol
Levenson, an analyst with Gimme Credit, an independent bond-research
firm, in the report titled "Lost in Space."
firms battling over FCC vote concerning use of local phone lines
||Telephone companies on both sides of the debate
are spending millions of dollars on nasty television commercials and
full-page newspaper ads to influence the debate and ultimately the
final draft of regulations that the FCC approves on the matter.
media rules up for revision
||Big media companies could be poised for even more
growth if the Federal Communications Commission relaxes rules limiting
ownership of television and radio stations, newspapers and cable systems.
arbitration rules overturned
||AT&T can't require its 7 million California long
distance customers to take disputes with the company to a private
arbitration system that limits their rights and swears them to secrecy,
a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
provider Covad expects to survive latest hurdle
||Covad attorney Jason Oxman says he's amazed how
often pundits have warned Covad is on the verge of death. "I can't
think of many companies that go through this like we do," said Oxman,
the firm's assistant general counsel. "Each time, they've been wrong.
We're still here."
over power lines being tested
||The same power lines that bring electricity to homes
and offices may become the next pathway into homes for high-speed
internet access. St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. and other utilities
already are testing the technology, and many consider it increasingly
phone companies support Nevada bill
||Cellular telephone company representatives are backing
a bill that would take away the right of Nevada cities and counties
to regulate use of cell phones by motorists.
audit of CEO, lawsuit add to the tumult at Sprint
||Management tumult at the telecommunications company
Sprint reached a new level on Wednesday as the chief executive, William
Esrey, acknowledged that he was the subject of an Internal Revenue
Service audit, while the executive whom the company has chosen to
succeed Esrey became the target of a second lawsuit meant to keep
him from joining Sprint.
follows rivals, increases phone fees
||Sprint Corp. has quietly announced an array of long-distance
rate hikes for customers starting March 1, following moves by both
AT&T and MCI to boost prices last year.
says it owns rights to Internet navigation technique
||According to letters that SBC mailed last week,
the company believes that any Web site with a menu that remains on
the screen while a user clicks through the site may owe it royalties.
chief scales back access rules - Network discounts for rivals in peril
||The nation's top communications regulator defended
plans Tuesday to scale back rules giving AT&T, MCI and other telephone
companies broad access to local Bell networks at steep discounts,
saying recent court rulings have forced the agency to rewrite the
CEO outlines turnaround strategy
||WorldCom Inc. plans to file its reorganization plan
and emerge from bankruptcy court this spring, chairman and CEO Michael
D. Capellas told employees. He also told workers in a broadcast to
expect some employees dismissals over the internal investigations
into the company's $9 billion accounting fraud.
Case to step down
||Facing growing shareholder anger over the performance
of AOL Time Warner's online unit and federal probes of its accounting,
Chairman Steve Case said Sunday that he had become a "distraction"
and will step down at the annual meeting in May.
enlist hacker to foil piracy rings
||Federal prosecutors will tell a U.S. District Court
in Tampa today of a plea deal with Steven Woida, a man they call one
of the most skillful pirates of DirecTV and EchoStar signals. The
deal includes his agreement to help them crack several international
computer-chip hacking groups.
claims SBC's long distance rates below costs
||Just days after telling reporters SBC Communications'
new long- distance offerings were underwhelming, AT&T complained to
state regulators that some of the rival telephone company's rates
are actually so low it's unfair.
calling gaining ground
||"We expect a steady transition to Internet calling
so that by 2010, nearly all calls will go over the Internet," said
Tom Evslin, chief executive of ITXC, a company in Princeton, N.J.,
that is a leading carrier of Internet calls.
to take $1.5 billion in charges
||AT&T, the No. 1 U.S. long distance telephone company,
said on Monday it will take $1.5 billion in charges as it cuts about
3,500 jobs, or about 5 percent of its work force, and writes down
the value of some Latin American and high-speed Internet assets.
AT&T raising long distance rates - AGAIN!
||For the third time in as many months, MCI plans
to boost long-distance telephone rates for some customers Feb. 1.
And AT&T, the nation's largest carrier, raised some of its rates on
New Year's Day. And on March 1, AT&T plans to raise its basic international
rates by 8 percent to selected countries.
arrested in DirecTV piracy case
||The FBI on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old Los Angeles
man and charged him with stealing and distributing documents that
might have allowed consumers to pirate broadcasts from satellite-TV
provider DirecTV Inc.
blocks stolen phones in Australia
||Australian telco Vodafone announced it will block
lost and stolen mobile phones from its network, a move which further
hinders the market for stolen handsets.